From Home Furnishing Business
Statistically Speaking: Furniture Spending Growth Outpaces Other Home Furnishings in 2018
The Furniture industry had a good year in 2018 posting 7 percent growth. But all home furnishings goods continue to lose consumer dollars to spending on services including healthcare, rents and mortgages.
Overall, personal consumption expenditures have risen 41.6 percent post-recession with the majority of consumer spending – roughly two-thirds – absorbed by services and the amount increases every year. According to the government’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), Healthcare costs now surpass total housing expenditures at $3.10 trillion versus $2.98 trillion in 2018. Combined healthcare and housing consume much of America’s paychecks. Although services will continue to eat away at consumer dollars with rising housing rents and mortgages, overall consumers are confident in the economy. Spending on durable goods is on the rise and has increased by 44 percent since 2009. Consumer spending on furniture alone has increased 7 percent over the last year to $114.6 billion in sales outpacing the growth other home furnishings products.
This article picks up from Home Furnishings Business July 2017 issues’ Statistically Speaking Consumer Spending Update. A comprehensive historical revision to Consumer Spending statistics in the second half of last year by the BEA confirmed what many furniture retailers tried to tell us all along. Specifically, that growth in furniture spending coming out of the Recession ending in 2009 was not as robust has first published (Table A). The Bureau of Economic Analysis lowered estimates of furniture spending beginning in 2011 and which has cumulated to an 8 percent correction that has carried through 2018.
Services, Durable, and Nondurable
Over the last five years, between 2013 and 2018, services have increased to 68.8 percent of consumer spending – from $7.6 trillion to $9.6 trillion in consumer dollars (Table B). Nondurables have declined as a percent of spending, down from 22.2 percent to 20.7 percent during the same time period. While spending for durable goods has not shifted as a percent of consumption since 2013 staying at 10.5 percent, total sales have increased by 22.7 percent.
As shown in Table C, both durable goods and nondurable goods lost tremendous ground from 2000 to 2009 as spending on services skyrocketed by 54.6 percent while consumer spending on housing and healthcare services steadily increased. On a positive note, in the years following the recession (2009 to 2018), durable goods have surpassed growth in services and nondurables, increasing 44.2 percent compared to 44.0 percent for services and 32.9 percent for nondurables.
Top Consumer Spending
Healthcare now exceeds total housing and home furnishings – accounting for 22.2 percent of consumer spending in 2018. The share for total housing and home furnishings has also increased slightly by 0.2 points, mainly due to rising rent and mortgage prices in a competitive housing market. Motor vehicles have dropped spending share by 1.2 points. Meanwhile Americans are eating out more, with corresponding spending on food/groceries consumed at home declining. In 2018, consumers were spending a greater share of expenditures on financial services – up 5.2 percent from 4.9 percent in 2013 (Table D).
Housing and Household Expenditures
Since the recession, renter-occupied housing has surged as the fastest growing housing expense – up 86.4 percent since 2007 (Table E). Both household insurance and owner-occupied housing expenditures have also grown at a fast pace, increasing by 40.8 percent and 47.5 percent respectively. Major household appliances have shown steady growth, while televisions have fallen flat and outpaced by other household spending. Surprisingly, tools and equipment for house and garden have skyrocketed the last few years – jumping 43 percent since 2012.
As Americans are staying put longer, household maintenance spending has grown an average of 4.8 percent a year from 2011 to 2016. 2016 to 2017 saw a dip (-0.8 percent) in housing maintenance but the numbers picked back up last year – growing 3.8 percent. Last year, rents and mortgages both saw a high growth of 4.5 percent and 4.4 percent as supply continues to tighten in many areas. Furniture has shown the most growth over the past year, rising 7 percent after an average yearly increase of 4.6 percent from 2011 to 2016.
Figure 1 itemizes the growth of housing and home furnishing expenditures five years 2011 to 2016 (CAGR), one year (2016 to 2017 and 2017 to 2018) and one year point change.
Furniture and Home Furnishings Products
In 2018 through November annualized, consumer spending on furniture alone totaled $114.6 billion dollars. Major household appliances is the second largest home furnishings spending category at $41.4 billion, followed by clocks, lamps, and lighting fixtures at $39 billion and televisions at $31.7 billion (Table G).
Although window coverings is the smallest of the home furnishings categories, it has experienced the largest post-recession surge in consumer spending – increasing 67.7 percent since 2007.
Table G depicts the decline of all the major furniture and home furnishing products from 2007 to 2009 and subsequent rise post-recession. Spending on carpets and other floor coverings, the most affected home furnishings category, has slowly increased since 2012 but still shy of 2007 expenditures. As of November 2018, spending on furniture is 13.7 percent higher than pre-recession amounts in 2007.
As depicted in Figure 2, all home furnishings categories except for televisions exceeded 3 percent average annual growth from 2011 to 2016. Spending on televisions had an average loss of (-0.2 percent) over five years but has rebounded slightly – increasing 4.3 percent last year. By far, furniture and window coverings have shown the most consistent growth from 2011 to 2018.
Table H shows the spending categories with highest increases and decreases from 2017 to 2018. Gasoline and other energy goods top the “winners” list at 13.4 percent growth, followed closely by truck leasing at 13.2 percent. More people are affording vacations and travel as passenger fares for foreign travel are up 12.0 percent. Entertainment is a big winner with motion picture theater ticket sales up 11.4 percent, video streaming and rentals growing by 9.2 percent and newspapers and periodicals increasing 9.0 percent last year.
New auto sales top the list of “losers”, posting a 9.5 percent decline with second place going to spectator sports. Not surprisingly, land-line telephone services have declined by 6.7 percent – placing the spending category third on the list.
The latest comprehensive revisions by the BEA to the U.S. National Accounts have several significant takeaways. First, personal income appears to have been under-reported for years, especially from small businesses. Secondly, the revised savings rate for individuals is no longer at historic lows and is about average to the levels seen since 1990. Also, the relationship between personal spending and income is no longer at historic highs. This all means that our economy may have even more room for expansion than originally thought which should bode well for the furniture and home furnishings industries.